We recently reported that Ubisoft is developing several game adaptations in house, which are then being shopped around to the major studios.
We still haven’t had the great video game movie yet, but things are exploding again in the gaming business, and it looks like Ubisoft wants to strike while the iron’s hot.
The first two game movies Ubisoft put into development are Assassin’s Creed, which has Michael Fassbinder attached to star, and Splinter Cell, which will feature Tom Hardy. It’s remarkable that the company already has stars attached to these titles before having studio deals in place, and now Ubisoft has another title in development to become a feature film, Ghost Recon, which like Splinter Cell is also another Tom Clancy title.
As the chief executive of Ubisoft Motion Pictures, Jean-Julien Baronnet, told the L.A. Times, "If you look at past adaptations of games to movies, none were done by an integrated gaming company that put a movie structure inside of itself. We’re not here to just license and we’re not here to produce big movies ourselves. We are really in the middle of it."
The Times also noted there are additional game adaptations set up in Hollywood, including Need For Speed at DreamWorks, Deus Ex at CBS Films, and Warcraft, the potential big screen adaptation of World of Warcraft that at one point Sam Raimi was attached to direct. While game movies are still a longshot, because we still haven’t had a good one yet, the figures the Times pointed out seem too strong to walk away from. (The Times quoted a DFC Intelligence report that games are currently a $67 billion dollar a year business).
Ubisoft is also a big company, but they’re not a monster corporation like Mircosoft where there’s a jungle of red tape and politics to cut through, which was one reason the Halo movie fell apart at Universal. There were too many issues over control and money, and too many power players who didn’t want to give up their ground. Ubisoft also told writer Ben Fritz they don’t want the essence of the games to be lost on their way to the big screen: "With so much at stake, it’s important we don’t give up the DNA of the game, the fundamental pillars"”
Ultimately, a smaller game company like Ubisoft working with smaller movie companies could actually end up bringing a great video game movie to theaters. The risks with Ubisoft have been considerably hedged, and it’s a much better idea to have people who know the gaming world make a movie, instead of Hollywood people who really don’t know the domain and are just smelling money.